Students will be able to…

  • Use their prior knowledge to identify and record key events
  • Explore and record what life was like for Jewish people before the war
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the time period, events, places and people during the Holocaust
  • Explore the emotions and feelings the survivors endured as a result of being separated from their families
  • Collect, analyze and report on data gathered from Holocaust survivor testimony
In advance of the lesson, provide access to digital copies of Biography: Chaim K., Biography: Magda K., Biography: Daniel W., Biography: Regina F., and Activity Sheet: W5+H. Alternately, reproduce copies of the materials to distribute to students in small groups.


Before beginning with the testimonies, you may choose to spend some time exploring the documents Reading: Pre-War Jewish Life, Reading: Antisemitism, and key events in the Reading: Rise of Nazism Timeline.

Brainstorm an answer to the following question:

  • Why do you think it is difficult to understand the perspectives of people in other times?

This lesson uses video excerpts taken from testimonies given by different survivors. We will use their accounts of separation from their families as evidence to reach conclusions about their perspectives.

Using the biographies of the four speakers (Chaim K., Magda K., Daniel W., Regina F.), as well as your background knowledge of pre-war Jewish life, European antisemitism, and the timeline of the Holocaust, record as much as you can on the Activity Sheet: W5+H.

For example:

  • What do you know about the time and place described by the survivor?
  • What were the circumstances of their separation from their family members?
  • How might knowing additional context help us to understand what life was like before the Second World War for these survivors?

Before viewing the testimony excerpts, consider:

  • Who created these videos?
  • How were they made?
  • What kind of source is this?
  • When and where were they created?

Using the prompts below, complete your Activity Sheet: W5+H. sheet.

  • What can you see in the videos?
  • If you compare these three sources …
  • This source supports evidence of …
  • Source X goes even further than Source Y in showing that …
  • Source X contradicts the evidence of Source Y in suggesting that …
  • These excerpts show different perspectives on …

Throughout the activities, step back and examine your thinking process. Are you observing closely? What questions are you asking yourself as you view the testimony? Are you reaching conclusions based on specific evidence?

Between excerpts, ensure that you are taking the time to debrief your observations with your teacher and other students, perhaps completing a collaborative W5+H sheet.

Chaim K.

Magda K.

Daniel W.

Regina F.

The following questions are suggested to guide your post-viewing discussion.

  • What are the beliefs, values and motivations of the survivors in these excerpts?
  • How do these survivors help us to understand the society in which they grew up?
  • How do these testimonies help us understand the past in ways that other types of sources do not?

Alternatively, you are encouraged to reflect on the testimonies with questions in regards to facts, further conclusions and a broader context.

  • Facts – What events are being described? Where are they happening? Who is involved? What adjectives do the subjects of the testimonies use to describe what happened to them?
  • Further conclusions – How does this testimony contribute to your understanding of the Holocaust? What changes do the survivors seem to have undergone as a result of their experiences?
  • In a broader context – Is it possible to truly understand the experience of a Holocaust survivor? What limits our understanding of the Holocaust?

Take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns. On the left side of the page, record information presented in the testimony. On the right side, record your reactions to this information: a question, a comment, a feeling, or a connection to something you know about or have experienced.